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U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed

 
BushBotz
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02/22/2007 06:54 PM
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U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
February 22, 2007
The Associated Press
Robert H. Reid



Even as the U.S. works to crack down on Iran's role here, it's becoming clear that the U.S.-backed Iraqi government holds a vision of Iraq's future that is closer — in key ways — to Tehran than Washington. It's also increasingly apparent that Tehran is backing some of the same Iraqi groups the United States favors.

That means America may be doomed to fail in its efforts to curb Iran's influence in Iraq, simply because its own allies here — both Shiite and Kurdish — are warm toward Tehran's role.

"In both countries, there is now a desire to move away from what was seen as an artificial iron curtain during the time of Saddam Hussein," said Reidar Visser, a Middle East expert at the Norwegian Institute of International Affairs.

Overall, the U.S. wants an Iraq where various groups, including Sunnis and Kurds, share power with the Shiite majority. It sees that as the only way to gain stability.

But Iraq's Shiite political leaders — and their longtime friend, Iran — want Shiites to maintain firm control in Iraq, with the Sunnis playing a role well below their dominant prewar position.

U.S. officials do acknowledge that Iran has legitimate interests in Iraq, including stopping any fresh outbreaks of full scale war.

But U.S. officials have been harshly critical of alleged Iranian efforts to supply weapons to Shiite groups in Iraq, including Shiite extremists. The Americans say those weapons are being used to kill Americans and are threatening stability here. Iran has denied the allegations.

The difference between American and Iraqi views about Iran's role is perhaps most stark in the case of the anti-American cleric Muqtada al-Sadr.

To the Americans and to Iraqi Sunnis, al-Sadr is a threat to national reconciliation. To al-Maliki — and the Iranians — the young cleric is an ally whose widespread support among Shiite masses cannot be discounted.

Iraqi Shiite leaders need al-Sadr's followers to maintain Shiite power once the Americans have gone. And Iran, interested in the same outcome, seems to have made the same calculation.

The issue has produced strains between the U.S. and Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki's government, which is resisting U.S. pressure to crack down on Sadr City, the stronghold of al-Sadr's militia.

Some Iraqi leaders think the American insistence on an al-Sadr crackdown means the United States is primarily interested in curbing Iran's regional influence, even if it complicates the fight against Sunni insurgents.

"The question is, 'Why is the U.S. going after the Mahdi Army when most of the attacks on U.S. and civilians are coming from the (Sunni) insurgents?'" said Vali Nasr, a professor at the U.S. Naval Postgraduate School. "It seems that U.S. concern is with Iran and its regional influence — above and beyond Iraq."

But U.S. officials say they have to stop the flow of Iranian arms to the Mahdi Army and others because those weapons are killing Americans. They believe Iran is the source of the deadly "explosively formed penetrators" that have killed more than 170 American and coalition soldiers since mid-2004.

Some analysts believe Iran's main motive in delivering such weapons is to gain leverage with Shiite factions and bolster the Shiites' position against the Sunnis — even at the risk of more problems with the Americans.

To bolster the Shiites, the Iranians need al-Sadr, even though his previous relationship with Tehran had never been that warm.

"Iran has come to see Muqtada al-Sadr as a growing force in Iraqi politics," said Kenneth Katzman, a Middle East specialist for the Congressional Research Service in Washington.

Iran's strategy so far "has been to build ties to al-Sadr and coax him into cooperating" with other Shiite political parties in Iraq, "while indulging his requests for material assistance," Katzman said.

The U.S. focus on al-Sadr overlooks the fact that Iran has even deeper, stronger links to the very Shiite and Kurdish parties the Americans consider their partners in Iraq.

Those include the Shiite group Supreme Council for the Islamic Republic in Iraq, whose leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim has been welcomed in both Washington and Tehran, and the Dawa party of the prime minister. Both major Kurdish parties also have their own longtime ties to Iran.

In December, U.S. troops detained two Iranian security officials in the home of a Shiite politician associated with al-Hakim. Last month, six other Iranians were captured at an Iranian liaison office in Irbil, the capital of the Kurdish self-ruled region.

"It is remarkable that even as the U.S. military seems to spend a lot of energy trying to dig up detailed evidence" against al-Sadr, Washington is courting "the very Iraqi Shiite faction that historically has enjoyed the strongest ties to Iran," Visser said.

[link to www.iht.com]


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[link to www.iht.com]
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all." -- Thomas Jefferson
Anonymous Coward
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02/22/2007 06:59 PM
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Re: U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
More great new! Thanks OP.
BushBotz  (OP)

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02/22/2007 07:03 PM
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Re: U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
More great new! Thanks OP.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 28083



why
I think it's a step forward...

Now if we can get the islamic fascist to stop killin the Innocence...
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all." -- Thomas Jefferson
Anonymous Coward
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02/22/2007 07:06 PM
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Re: U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
Why make a distinction for the Islamic fascists? I say make all of the fascists stop killing innocents, and abusing them and robbing them too.
BushBotz  (OP)

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02/22/2007 07:19 PM
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Re: U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
Why make a distinction for the Islamic fascists? I say make all of the fascists stop killing innocents, and abusing them and robbing them too.
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 28083


Lets see, a few about 1% of the coalition troops act as criminals, and 100% of the foreign insurgents are criminals......


I don’t get it what do you want...
"The spirit of resistance to government is so valuable on certain occasions that I wish it to be always kept alive. It will often be exercised when wrong, but better so than not to be exercised at all." -- Thomas Jefferson
Anonymous Coward
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06/05/2008 09:53 PM
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Re: U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
some in congress just love iran


"Pelosi Credits Iran's "Goodwill" for Surge Success"
www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/greenwald/8571
Anonymous Coward
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06/05/2008 10:24 PM
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Re: U.S. Efforts to Curb Iranian Influence in Iraq Unlikely to Succeed
some in congress just love iran


"Pelosi Credits Iran's "Goodwill" for Surge Success"
www.commentarymagazine.com/blogs/index.php/greenwald/8571
 Quoting: Anonymous Coward 309414



Didn't she say Iran isn't involved in Iraq when the madness was going on?
And now that are troops are getting a handle she credits Iran.

What is it bitch?





GLP